Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tune for Tuesday

Today’s tune for Tuesday is my favorite Christmas song. I enjoy Christmas songs, especially because you hear them just at a month at a time (more may just be too much!). My mom used to always play a Johnny Mathis Christmas, which was always good. I own Christmas CD’s by Elvis, Jewel, and Chicago. I just found out that Weezer just came out with one; I will definitely have to get that. Monster Ballads Xmas is also on my wish list. This one features 80’s hair bands, which I have to admit I still enjoy. Since I heart the 80’s, my very favorite Christmas song should come as no surprise.
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid has been played many times in the past week (much to the chagrin of my oldest son- “Not this song again!”).
This song was released in 1984 and was recorded specifically to raise money for relief in Ethiopia. Bob Geldof assembled the group of popular British and Irish musicians for this recording. Musicians included Sting, Phil Collins, Paul Young, George Michael, and members from Duran Duran (sigh), U2, Culture Club, Bananarama, Spandeau Ballet, Kool and the Gang, and many others. I was a major Duran Duran fan when this song came out, so I loved it then. Despite my being a rocker girl, I still adore Duran Duran. I can’t help it. C’mon, it’s Simon Le Bon and John Taylor! They are still dreamy…:0) I still buy their albums and attend their concerts.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends. I’m looking forward to some major family time in the next few weeks, so I will not be blogging regularly until after the new year. Happy holidays and a happy new year to you all!
Enjoy “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Friday, December 19, 2008

Poetry Friday

Welcome to Poetry Friday! Author Amok is hosting today. Visit Laura's site to see some wonderful links to poetry. The Midwest is being pummeled with snow. My oldest son woke up to ask if he had school today. I replied with the answer he was waiting to hear, "No, it's a snow day!" He ran and hugged me. The narrator in my original poem wasn't so lucky...


A Snow Day by Kelly Polark

A snow day! A snow day!
Angels in a row day!
A snow day! A snow day!
Bake some cookie dough day!

A snow day! A snow day!
Watch our dad snow blow day!
A snow day! A snow day!
Drink some hot cocoa day!

A snow day! A snow day!
Watch a video day!
A snow day! A snow day!
Turn on the radio day!

What did the radio say?
No schools are closed today?
I guess it’s an OH NO! day.
If you haven't already, check out another winter poem of mine in this month's issue of Stories for Children magazine. Click here to read it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tunes for Thursday

I had so much fun perusing Christmas rock videos on YouTube that I thought I’d throw in a few more tunes this week. These aren’t my favorite Christmas songs, but they have a few things in common. 1. They are both by artists that were popular in 1990. 2. They are the same song, "Jingle Bell Rock." 3. The first one is by an artist I didn’t care for when they were popular, but I do like this Christmas song. The second song is by an artist I did like in the eighties/nineties, but this video makes me cringe.
The first song is "Jingle Bell Rock" by Nelson. Nelson is a band with two brothers, Matthew and Gunnar, who had a hit in 1990 called, “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection.” I actually saw them in concert this year with my mom. We went to see Great White, LA Guns, and Nelson. Good bands, not great bands, but they were playing in a cornfield about twenty minutes from us, so we went. It was pretty fun, and we had our picture taken with Gunnar and Matthew (don’t ask me which is which). They were nice guys. If you have ever seen The Suite Life on Disney Channel, picture Zack and Cody 25 years from now.
They don’t have a video, so just take a listen to "Jingle Bell Rock" from the Monster Ballads Xmas album (which is seriously on my list this year!).

The next video is "Jingle Bell Rock" by Billy Idol. Billy Idol is cool. He has a sneer like no other, and I love the song, “White Wedding.” He was a major Mtv staple of the eighties. So I thought this would be an awesome version of “Jingle Bell Rock.” It is probably the video that turned me off to it. I like to think of Billy as a tough, lip curling rocker. This 2006 video just makes him look like a goof, and it looks like he’s had a little work done, too. Actually, his vocals sound good in the song, he just looks silly in the video! If you like the song, Billy has a whole album of Christmas songs titled, Happy Holidays: A Very Special Christmas Album.
Here it is!


Honestly isn’t just a Stryper song. I have been nominated for the Honest Scrap Award by my blogger buddy, Christy. “Scrap means left over, discarded material. Many times truth and honesty are discarded material, considered fragments and left over. This award is for people that tell it like it is, and let the scraps fall where they will. There are 2 guidelines for receiving this award. One, you are to list 10 honest things about yourself. Make them interesting, even if you have to dig deep. Two, present the award to other bloggers.”
Ten honest things about me are –
1. I am an honest person, but sometimes I say nothing instead of telling it like it is to avoid conflict.
2. I’ve cried every day since my dog died.
3. Before I go to bed at night, I have to put my hand on my kids’ backs to make sure they are breathing.
4. No matter where I go or for how long for vacation, I am always glad to return home. I am a major homebody.
5. I have a stack of magazines two feet high that I still haven’t read and have to go through.
6. I know I am overprotective of my children and that I need to let up. But I hover anyway.
7. My husband and I have had our fair share of medical tests and procedures with my daughter (one being she had her kidney removed last year). We take her to specialists throughout the year. She’s one tough little girl.
8. My husband drives me crazy sometimes, but I’m crazy about him :0). I suppose that could go for my three children, too!
9. I had a cookie for breakfast today.
10. I think I’m addicted to Facebook.

There you have it. I tag Shelby, Kim, Adrienne, Ann and Samantha .

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tune for Tuesday

The rock/ska band, No Doubt, reached mainstream success in 1995 with their album, Tragic Kingdom. I remember getting that CD for Christmas that year and playing it over and over. My favorite song from the album is “Just A Girl.” Today’s tune is by No Doubt. “Oi To The World” is No Doubt’s contribution to A Very Special Christmas 3 compilation. Proceeds from this album go to Special Olympics International. The very successful Special Christmas series has raised more than $55 million for Special Olympics. The California punk rock band, The Vandals, originally recorded "Oi to the World;" their friends, No Doubt, covered it with great success.
You may recognize the lead singer of No Doubt as Gwen Stefani. Gwen is an awesome vocalist and all around good role model for girls with her successful music and clothing career and her stable family life.
I’ve been having fun checking out rockin’ Christmas tunes this week, so I’ll have a Tune for Thursday this week as well. Next week’s Tune for Tuesday will be my favorite Christmas song.
But first check out No Doubt!

Um....Thank You?

The holidays are upon us. I’ve been busy, busy, busy purchasing gifts for loved ones. It’s hard to find that perfect gift sometimes. But you try. Or not. Have you ever gotten a gift that made you cringe? Giggle? Run away? Tell me the funniest (or strangest) gift you have ever given or received. Here’s my story…
When I was in fourth grade, my parents let me have a pet rabbit. He was a beautiful black bunny that I named Ziggy. What does a rabbit have to do with Christmas? Nothing, unless you are in my crazy family. During my childhood, my older sister, Denise, and I usually didn't exchange gifts. But one year (I was probably ten) she wrapped up a small little box just for me! My parents were so touched. I was so touched.
I opened it up excitedly. What, oh, what did my big sister pick out for pesky little me? I tore open the lid of the little box. ACK! It was full of rabbit droppings! We went from "Aaaawww to Ewwwww!" My mom said, "That wasn't very nice!" That was certainly what you would call an unexpected gift. I think I was just shocked. Looking back, I am surprised we didn't laugh more about it, because my parents both have good senses of humor.
About ten years ago when I was a teacher, a coworker had a rabbit. I asked her if she could please bring me some rabbit droppings....(I'm sure she thought I was nuts, but I did explain the story). We were all at my mom's celebrating Christmas, and I gave my sister a small, beautifully wrapped gift full of you-know-what! :0) This time we did all burst out into laughter. Because little tiny poops are funny (as long as they aren’t on your shoe).
My sister also blogged about this blessed Christmas moment here. There are slight inaccuracies, but the hilarity is the same. What is the funniest gift you have encountered?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Poetry Friday

Welcome to Poetry Friday. Today's host is Wild Rose Reader. Please stop by her site to find some wonderful poetry links!


TREE TOPPER by, Kelly Polark

Yule tree,
Oh, Christmas tree.
Balls of glass, childmade stars,
Shining jewels lead to an angel
On Earth.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Puppy Love

Puppers was my first dog ever. During my childhood, my parents thought we were not home enough with our busy lives to give a dog a proper home. I still longed for a dog. As soon as my husband and I moved out of our first apartment, we started looking for a puppy. We stopped at a place to look for the perfect pup, just to look. We saw a little black puppy pawing at a chain in her kennel. She was a terrier/poodle mix. It was love at first sight. We played with her, and she got so excited she tinkled a little on the floor. We thought it was so funny! (Though she did ruin our carpets in our first home, because she continued to do that when someone came home!) We were actually on our way to a party downtown so we couldn’t bring her home that night. We put money down and picked her up in the morning. I remember sitting in the back seat of the car with her wriggling on my lap, tears streaming down my face because I was so happy I finally had my own dog.
Puppers became a focal point of our life. People would think we were crazy, because we went on and on about her. We were overprotective of her. We even threw her a birthday party when she turned one-complete with a kegger and a birthday cake that said “Happy Birthday, Puppers.”
We then got a friend for Puppers, a miniature pinscher named Goofy. They played a little bit, but they always seemed to coexist rather than be buddies. (Goofy also got a birthday party when she turned one!) We then moved into our current home and added three children to their lives. My husband would bring one of the baby blankets home for the dogs to sniff, before the baby and I would come home. When each baby was around six months old, the baby always liked to grab the dog bones on the floor. Puppers would then tug ever so gently, and the baby and Pups would play a little game of tug of war.
With three children in the house, the dogs, of course, were not the focal point in our lives as they first were. But they continued to be an important and loving part of our family. We take them on our family trips. They love to run and run when we go to my inlaws’ vacation home, which has a lot of land for them to explore. They enjoy going up north to my family’s cabin. Puppers once even jumped in the lake when my son stumbled into it. Dogs just have pure genuine love for their family, and the love is definitely reciprocated.
This past weekend, we had to put our sweet Puppers to rest; she was 12 ½ years old. She was becoming more and more ill in the past four months. In October, we took her to a university hospital, who told us she most likely had cancer. A tumor on her neck was small then, but grew to where she couldn’t swallow last week. Her last few months were very good though. The doctors put her on steroids to make her last months more comfortable. I am thankful I had those last few months to love her and prepare myself a little bit for the inevitable. She was such a great dog. I miss her.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tune for Tuesday

Today’s Tune for Tuesday is by the band, My Chemical Romance. This New Jersey band formed in 2001. I first heard (or noticed) My Chemical Romance in December of 2006 on the radio. The song was “Welcome to the Black Parade.” My then 7 year old son and I agreed that we liked the song. I purchased it on Itunes, and we played it over and over. As you know I am quite fond of music so therefore love to watch music videos. A few months later I DVR’d a block of My Chemical Romance videos that was on the Fuse music channel. One of the music videos was for the song “Famous Last Words.” That became my favorite MCR song, and it is my third most played song on my Ipod. My Chemical Romance is one of the few bands that I like that I haven’t seen live, so I hope to catch them next time they tour.
As I searched the internet for information about the band, I noticed that the band has a blog, too! And the lead singer, Gerard Way, is a Star Wars fan. Plus Gerard is the author of a graphic novel titled The Umbrella Academy. Cool.
Check out “Famous Last Words.”

Analyze This

On last week’s blog, I showed this writing sample for Shelby to analyze. She sent me a very thorough step by step explanation. I thought I would write her summary. I was very impressed by her analysis! Thanks again, Shelby!
“Overall, the writing sample reflects an intelligent individual who is happy, healthy, and optimistic. The clear script with controlled pressure is a sign of good physical health. The most prominent details are the upward slant and consistent spacing between words, indicating that the writer has ambitious goals and dreams, and a positive outlook on life. The writer also has a need for privacy, when appropriate. The medium lower loops as found in the lowercase y and g indicate that while the writer is usually active and productive, there is also a need for relaxation and recharging of batteries. The wrapping of the crossbar in the K found in the signature suggests a warm, affectionate individual. The position of the signature in relation to the body of the text indicates honesty and reliability. In conclusion, the writer expresses a joy in living and a belief that things will always get better. There is a strong desire to accomplish many things, so feelings of frustration may surface at times. The writer is a confident, well-balanced individual whose unending ambition can lead to great success.”

Her analysis was pretty much on target. I am a glass half-full person. I am determined, but can get frustrated at times (how can’t you with the competitive business of writing?). I do truly feel that perseverance will lead to a goal accomplished. I am extremely affectionate with my family and hope my friends consider me to be warm and loyal. I also like to get things done, then need to recharge, too (AKA nap). Excellent work, Shelby!

Did you notice I have the I’m Buying Books for the Holidays banner on the right? When we go to a child's birthday party, I usually make sure I have a book with the gift. I didn’t usually do that with the adults on my list though. This year I have been purchasing books to help boost the economy in the publishing world. Mother Reader has some great ideas to pair a book with a gift for the holidays. Here are a few ideas:
1. A biography or autobiography of a musician with a CD or Itunes gift card.
2. Any dinosaur book (I love Jane Yolen’s) with a plastic or stuffed dino.
3. A DVD of a movie (or movie tickets) with a copy of the book it is based on.
4. A cookbook with a gift card to a grocery store
5. A book on going green with a reusable shopping bag or energy saving light bulbs

You get the picture! My ideas are very general, Mother Reader has lists and lists of great ideas with specific titles. Check it out!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Poetry Friday

I am a newbie to Poetry Friday, so thank you for allowing me to participate in this Poetry Lovefest! Today's Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by Mommy's Favorite Children's Books. Come check out all the cool poetry links for today!

My tree is up. Snow is on the ground. I am bundled in a sweater. Winter weather is here! During the holidays, I so enjoy gazing at all the beautiful lights on houses as I drive from place to place. It seems to make my night driving a little more cheerful, a lot more bright! My hubby put lights up along our house a few days ago.



Lights twinkle at me.
Vibrant colors shine the way.
They welcome me home.


Our Polar(k) Bears

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Three Things

1. The picture above is a handwriting sample. Shelby offered to analyze it for anyone that posts it on their blog and lets her know! Thanks, Shelby! I wonder what my handwriting says about me!
2. Thank you to Adrienne who tagged me in a meme. The meme challenge is to give a one word response to the questions stated below! If you would like to join in, I tag YOU!

Where is your cell phone? car
Where is your significant other? garage
Your hair color? brown
Your mother? laughing
Your father? basketball
Your favorite thing? kids
Your dream last night? interesting
Your dream/goal? published
The room you’re in? cozy
Your hobby? music
Your fear? death
Where do you want to be in 6 years? here
Where were you last night? home
What you’re not? neat-freak
One of your wish-list items? Juicy
Where you grew up? Illinois
Last thing you did? kissed
What are you wearing? sweater
Your TV? huge
Your pet? dying
Your computer? laptop
Your mood? tired
Missing someone? sometimes
Your car? gas-guzzler
Something you’re not wearing? watch
Favorite store? SuperTarget
Your summer? fast
Love someone? many
Your favorite color? green
When is the last time you laughed? today
Last time you cried? dog

3. Lastly, I have a poem in this month's issue of Stories for Children magazine!
Check out Winter Woes! I love the illustration!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tune for Tuesday

Today’s Tune for Tuesday is “The Kill” by the band 30 Seconds to Mars. This alternative rock band is fronted by Jared Leto. His brother, Shannon, plays the drums, and Tomo Miličević jams on lead guitar. You may recognize Jared Leto as an actor from the old series, “My So Called Life” or movies such as Alexander or American Psycho. Not many actors can crossover to music, but I believe that Jared is one of the few that accomplished this. Jared’s smooth vocals make him one of my favorite singers in the music world (and he’s not too bad to look at…). I saw 30 Seconds to Mars in concert in during their “Welcome to the Universe” tour in 2006. The band labeled it as an Environmentour as they tried to be green even using vegetable oil to fuel their tour bus.
“The Kill” is from 30STM's second album, “A Beautiful Lie.” Not only is it a cool song, but the video is pretty sweet, too. The video portrays elements from the movie, “The Shining.”
Presenting “The Kill”

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm Wearing Red Today

Today marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. It is a day for people and organizations from around the world to come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic. Much has been done since 1988, but there is still so much more to be accomplished.
An easy way to support this cause is through Product RED. This campaign offers hundreds of ways to support funding to eliminate Aids. You can buy coffee, cards, clothing, and many other fun, useful items that donate to this charity.
Coffee: Starbucks will contribute five cents from the sale of any STARBUCKS RED EXCLUSIVE beverage at participating stores to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa.
My favorite, Clothing: I own three (RED) shirts from the Gap to show my support for this cause (one of them pictured). I also gave many (RED) shirts as gifts last year. My children all own a (RED) shirt as well, but I noticed they don’t carry these items for children anymore.
Tunes: Select PRODUCT (RED) Special Edition iPod models and iTunes Gift Cards, and Apple give a portion of the purchase price to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa.
Cards: Hallmark offers a Product (RED) line of greeting cards.
Shoes: You can purchase some sweet Converse kicks that use canvas sourced from Africa with African designs.
Check out the Product Red website for more items. Buy (RED), save lives.
Today over 5000 people will die of AIDS. Our family lost a beloved member from AIDS years ago. Another determined family member volunteered for a year in South Africa counseling those with AIDS. People are afflicted near and far.
Are you wearing red today? I am!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cinquain Saturday

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving day! I had a fabulous Thanksgiving at my house with 16 people and 6 dogs for the day. Good family times! On Friday, my mom, my sister and I hit the mall for some shopping and lunch. It's a tradition that we've enjoyed for many years.

Today will be my last regular installment of Cinquain Saturday. I discovered that many poets participate in a Poetry Friday, so I will do that instead...Stay tuned!

Today's cinquain is about my favorite drink, Coca Cola. I love it, especially the fountain Coke from McDonald's. I know it's terrible for you, so I don't have it every day. My second favorite drink? Chocolate milk! Though I have to admit, on a hot summer day, nothing beats a cold Coors Light...What is your favorite beverage?

I thirst.
I pant, I sigh.
Then I spy a hidden
cold can of Coke. I pop the top.
Oh, yeah.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tune for Tuesday

Today’s tune is a great, classic song by Led Zeppelin. “Thank You” was released in 1969 on the Led Zeppelin II album. The English band, Led Zeppelin, influenced rock and roll with their heavy guitars and achieved great commercial success. Led Zeppelin ranked number one on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. I’m sure all of you have heard of Led Zeppelin….
So many awesome songs! My favorite albums are II and IV; my roommate, Becky, and I would listen to those albums while getting ready to go the bars in college!
It is the week of Thanksgiving. The song lyrics in “Thank You” have nothing to do with Thanksgiving, blogs, or writing, but the title words should be said daily to friends, family, even strangers.
I want to thank Vivian at Hipwritermama blog for a book I’ve won in her contest! She is sending me Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes. This YA book is centered around music…gee, do you think I’ll like it? :0)
Thank you for visiting my blog. Thank you for commenting. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to having some great family time! I hope you all can do the same! I feel truly blessed.
Happiness..I’m glad.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Smashing Cinquain Saturday

My sister, Denise, and I saw Smashing Pumpkins last night. Today’s cinquain is about Billy Corgan, lead singer and songwriter of the band. Smashing Pumpkins celebrate 20 years of rock and roll this year…we saw a poster celebrating it at the concert titled: Twenty Years of Sadness. Billy is known to be eccentric, egocentric and full of angst; many of his songs reflect this. Last night he portrayed all of that, but more so, his extreme talent.

Creative soul
Twenty years of sadness
Decades of hits, sold out concerts
Lost boy

My girls’ night out started with drinks at a local bar. My sister and I met with fellow blogger/YA author, SL Hastings, and her husband. We chatted about both of our husbands being wary of us meeting “cyberfriends.” We shared writing stories and giggled over other funny stories from our lives. It was fun meeting a fellow blogger and writer.Photobucket
Denise and I then headed to the concert. We had awesome seats, and the band started soon after we got to the venue. The lights dimmed, and the band started playing. Billy entered in usual theatrical fashion as seen here.Photobucket

We enjoyed the 2 hour plus set of old hits and new tunes. Billy bantered a bit about Chicago sports (he is a huge fan), and related how his second concert was at this theater (the band, Asia). He had a cold and coughed and blew his nose a bit during the performance, but his vocals didn’t suffer from it. Corgan sounded awesome. Tonight’s show though was cancelled and rescheduled due to Corgan’s illness.
The Pumpkins played twenty songs (no encore due to Billy’s sickness). I don’t mind listening to new songs, but they outnumbered the hits that they played. Also, many of the songs were drawn out with self-indulgent guitar by Billy, which I could have done without. He is a superb guitar player, but I really don’t want to hear it go on and on!
Overall, it was a good concert. Billy is a talented entertainer. Jimmy Chamberlain was phenomenal at drums. But as many fans would say, I would have liked more hits; they have so many to choose from. Some of this is due to the next nights performance being totally different to this one (all different songs played), but they have enough hits to satisfy both nights, or repeat a song or two. My favorite songs of the night were “Tarantula,” “Bullet” and their new single, “G.L.O.W.” I liked their heavy guitars on “Heavy Metal Machine,” but the song went on a little long.
I read on the Smashing Pumpkin message boards that after many of his recent concerts, Billy ended it by lashing out at the fans and going on a tirade. I think it was probably supposed to be a statement or some theatrical release, but we did not get yelled at after this performance, probably because he was sick. I have to say I was a little disappointed, because I wanted to see everyone’s reactions to it. I was also fully prepared to write on this blog, “Despite all his rage, Billy’s still just a brat on the stage…”
But we were denied this rehearsed rant, which actually probably was for the better. He even said, “I love you all” to his fans…maybe illness makes him more human…
That’s my wrap up. Good concert, still love their songs…Billy’s still, well, Billy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Behind the Times

Yes, I am ten years behind...I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone! I read to my three children each night -a picture book for JD, a picture book or a chapter to my daughter, and then a chapter (or several pages of a nonfiction book) to my oldest son. I finally convinced my nine year old son, J-Man, to read Harry Potter with me. I read a chapter to him aloud, then he reads on by himself. I then have to catch up and read to myself by bedtime the next evening. I 've wanted to read the Harry Potter series for a long time, but I also wanted to experience it at the same time as the J-Man. So we read it together. We have the collection that my mom saved for the kids after she and my sister read through them. Of course, it is as amazing as everyone has told me.
I knew J-Man would love the book. He would tell me daily, "You have to catch up, you won't believe what happens!" When he read the last few chapters by himself, he exclaimed, "Mom, there is a big surprise at the end! You HAVE to finish it tonight!" Thankfully, all of my children love to read, but it still fills my heart up with pride when I see them get truly excited over a book.
Last night we snuggled together and watched the movie together. J-Man was so proud to annouce the characters names as they came onto the screen. He would announce the settings, "Yep, there's Diagon Alley..." and had fun commenting throughout the whole movie.
After the movie he told his Dad, "Dad! It's better than Star Wars!" to which my husband yelped, "What??????" and pretended to look hurt.
This morning we all spoke in (bad) British accents as I sent my older two off to Hogwarts. I just hope J-Man doesn't return today with a rat named Scabbers...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tune for Tuesday

Today’s tune is absolutely smashing. I’ve spent way too much time perusing videos this morning to pick the tune. I knew I wanted a Smashing Pumpkins song, because I am going to see them live for the first time this weekend (Woo hoo!). I’ve actually seen lead singer, Billy Corgan, perform already this year. He played guitar on a song (The Chauffeur) with Duran Duran this spring when I was at a Duran Duran concert! It was awesome. I’m pretty pumped to see him perform with the Pumpkins finally.
Smashing Pumpkins, an alternative rock band from Chicago, have so many cool tunes to choose from. Should I choose their newest single, “G.L.O.W.” or an old favorite,“Zero?” “Today” or “Bullet with Butterfly Wings?” There is a plethora of Smashing Pumpkin songs that I like, so I’m just going to go ahead and pick one….
Today’s Tune for Tuesday is “Disarm” simply because I checked my Itunes folder and that is the Smashing Pumpkins song with the most plays on my Ipod...
I just read an article about the band celebrating 20 years of rock n roll! Read it here.
Check it!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Prairie Writers Day Recap

On Saturday I was fortunate enough to attend the SCBWI Prairie Writers Day. The night before, I could not get to sleep as it was my first conference. I was so nervous and excited. I was like a little girl before the first day of school!
A friend from my writing group, Ann Bryson, accompanied me to this conference. It was fun to have someone to share the day with. As we pulled into the parking lot, I realized it was the wrong lot, so I went to back up (slowly, thank goodness) and heard a honk behind me! I exclaimed to Ann, “Well, I almost hit an editor!” Great way to start the day…luckily it was not an editor, but a very nice lady who was polite enough not to mention my driving faux pas when we met up with her. We entered the building, received our folder and name tags, and sat among 175 attendees who were anxious to learn and mingle with their peers and the guest speakers.
What amazing guest speakers! Our speakers included editors from different publishers: Harold Underdown who is a freelance editorial consultant, Martha Mihalick from Greenwillow, Cheryl Klein from Arthur A. Levine Books, and Caroline Meckler from Wendy Lamb Books. Our group learned more about the state of the industry from Harold, character from Martha, plot from Cheryl and voice from Caroline. All presentations were so thorough. The information presented refreshed what I do know and added to my knowledge of each topic. I am looking forward to using this information to revise my current projects. As guest speaker, Jennifer Rofe said, “When you think you are done, you’re not!” Jennifer is an agent from Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I did not know much about agencies before this. She opened my eyes to what an agent does, which includes suggesting edits of the manuscript before sending it to publishers. Sharon Darrow’s teaching session also emphasized revision. She gave some great helpful hints to revise poetry.
Besides recharging and filling up my think tank, this day allowed me to mingle with other authors. I was able to visit with some ladies from my local SCBWI chapter. I spoke with my poetry mentor, Heidi Bee Roemer, with whom I’ve taken a class from. I also met a fellow blogger and blueboarder, Tabitha Olson. Ann and I met many wonderful people who adore the writing process as much as we do.
I left the conference refreshed, smarter, more confident, and definitely excited to revise my manuscripts and create more. And boy, did I sleep well when I got home that night, too!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cinquain Saturday

Today I am attending an SCBWI Prairie Writers Day conference. I am so excited! It is my first conference, and there are amazing speakers! I'm looking forward to soak up all the professional advice and information that I can!

I'm off!

Smarts and Craft time

at Prairie Writers Day.

Learning, networking, and growing.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I comment on blogs, and I like it! I am participating in the Comment Challenge from Mother Reader. The goal is to comment on at least five kidlitosphere blogs a day. You keep track of your numbers, and report in on Wednesdays with Mother Reader. On Wednesday, November 26, there will be a final check-in post for the Comment Challenge. I’ve been exploring new blogs, learning new information, and keeping up with my favorite blogs, too! It’s also a great networking tool. Spread the blog love, comment today!
My second challenge is Buy Books for the Holidays! Due to the weak economy, many industries are hurting, and publishing is one of them. This challenge will not only boost book sales, but the love of reading as well! I already shopped at Borders yesterday and left the store with a big ole bag of books for my family members.
My third challenge comes from Rena. She posted a beautiful wedding picture and asked others to do the same. Above is a picture of the day I became Mrs. Polark. It was a 93 degree day in June. The church we got married in did get air conditioning….two days after we married! The reception was a blast - lots of dancing and much love from family and friends. One of the best days of my life! Corny, but true!
Here are a few other pics in my wedding dress...
Join me in one or all three of these challenges! You know you want to!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tune For Tuesday

Today’s Tune for Tuesday may be a little hardcore for your average blogger. Today’s song is “Unholy Confessions” by Avenged Sevenfold. The headbanging song is from Avenged Sevenfold’s 2003 Waking the Fallen album. This song is the most played song on my Ipod, and it’s also one of my ringtones. Most of you will probably turn it off after a minute (that's okay, I won't be offended!), but for some reason, I LOVE this song! My favorite part is the amazing guitar riff in the beginning (which is my ringtone). Avenged Sevenfold is one of my preferred bands due to the guitar talent of lead guitarist, Synyster Gates, and nail-gun drumming of The Rev.
I discovered Avenged Sevenfold in 2005 when their breakout song, “Bat Country” became popular on the radio and Mtv. Since then, I’ve been a huge fan of their music. Other mainstream hits include “Seize the Day,” “Almost Easy,” and “Afterlife.” My husband and I saw this rock band live at Ozzfest a few summers ago. I have tickets to see Avenged Sevenfold and Buckcherry tonight, so an Avenged Sevenfold Tune for Tuesday seemed appropriate for today.

Check it out and rock out!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cinquain Saturday

Many schools have given out report cards recently. My two grade school age children received theirs this week. I am thankful that they act respectfully in the classroom and earn good grades. As a former grade school teacher, I have much experience with report cards. Children are so different. The learning levels vary so much in one classroom. Some are lucky enough to have parent guidance at home, some are not. Some children have a thirst for knowledge, others just wait for the school day to end. A few children get A's and B's with little effort, while others struggle to get C's and B's.
I could write a hundred cinquains about report cards (maybe I will!). Today's is about the students who do well, but don't want to go that extra mile to do better. I remember a student who received all B's, and the mom was pleased (as she should be). I tried to convince her though that her son was capable of so much more, that he did this with little effort. I wanted the parents to have even higher expectations for their child. I had another student who would study more, ask me more questions, really try to achieve B's and C's. When he did receive all B's, it was a huge accomplishment. His parents and I were so very proud.
Grades are important records of what a child learns in the classroom, but there is so much more to understand about your child's abilities beyond the report card.


All B's.
My teacher writes,
"Doesn't apply himself."
Mom hugs me, but expects some A's
next time.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Addicted to Blood

True Blood that is…My hubby and I watched the newest episode of HBO’s True Blood last night. True Blood is one of my favorite shows this fall. New episodes air on Sunday nights. We usually watch each episode on Sunday nights after the kids are asleep, but busy schedules postponed our viewing this week. The current episode had the usual campiness and outrageousness that we have come to enjoy in this series.
True Blood is centered around the life of Sookie Stackhouse. Sookie, played brilliantly by a blond Anna Paquin, is a spunky, independent waitress who falls in love with a vampire named Bill. The show is set in the south during an unsettled era when vampires are being mainstreamed into society when a synthetic blood drink, True Blood, becomes available. Some vampires sustain themselves with this new drink, others cannot resist their primal ways of drinking from humans.
True Blood is mystery, comedy, fantasy, love story all in one. I do not usually watch horror films, but this really isn’t your typical horror show. There are blood and guts and very graphic adult situations (it is HBO!), but the main characters seem more intriguing and interesting.
There are only three episodes left in the season. If you are an avid viewer like me, chime in about your favorite character, scene or what you like best about this show. If you haven’t watched the series, I advise you to try and watch it from the beginning of the series as it is a mystery, too. If HBO happens to play the reruns in order, watch that, or wait for the DVD that I assume will be out next year.
True Blood is based on mystery novels by Charlaine Harris. I usually like to read books first, before seeing the movie. I will still seek out the novels and devour them after the series is done. I imagine they will still be bloody good.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tune for Election Tuesday

Today is a historic day. I, like so many of you, have pondered the issues, the candidates. Today is the day that we execute our privilege to vote. I do feel that it is a privilege. I was nervous and excited to vote for the first time when I was 18. The last election I was nervous and excited to vote as my children’s school referendum was at stake. This election I am nervous and excited, because we will finally find out who has won this important election. No matter which presidential candidate you are voting for today, the winner will not dictate all of the important choices in your life when he starts his term. You are the leader of your life. You have educated yourself on what you feel is best for our country, now educate yourself on what is best for you.
Tomorrow everyone will be buzzing about our future president. Today’s Tune for Tuesday is titled, “Tomorrow.” It is a song by one of my favorite bands, Sixx: A.M.
Please think about my favorite lyrics to this song:

“Just look at yourself, do you like what you see?
Look at yourself, is this how it should be?”

Change was a buzzword during much of the campaign. If the answer is maybe or no to these questions, strive for a positive change in yourself. Volunteer. Learn a new skill. Be a better role model for your children. Respect others’ opinions. Set goals.
Have a greater tomorrow, week, month, year!

Rock the Vote.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cinquain Saturday

I heart poetry! Two of the few items I saved from my grade school years are my poetry unit collections that I made in fifth and eighth grade. When I was a grade school teacher, I so enjoyed teaching the different styles of poetry to my students. Now I create poetry for fun and to submit to magazines. I also have three picture books of poetry that I am presenting to various publishers.
Due to this love of poetry, Saturdays in the Kelly Polark Blog World will now become Cinquain Saturdays. A cinquain is a five line poem. There are three styles.
Style #1

Line 1: One word
Line 2: Two words
Line 3: Three words
Line 4: Four words
Line 5: One word

Style #2
Line 1: A noun
Line 2: Two adjectives
Line 3: Three -ing words
Line 4: A phrase
Line 5: A synonym for the noun in Line 1
Style #3

Line 1: Two syllables
Line 2: Four syllables
Line 3: Six syllables
Line 4: Eight syllables
Line 5: Two syllables

I usually use Style #3 when I write cinquains. When I taught poetry to my students, I used Style #2 to incorporate the parts of speech. I currently write cinquains for children and for adults. Each Saturday I will post a new cinquain on my blog! I whipped one up this morning to start my Cinquain Saturday...don't worry, they'll get better. ;0)

Today's Cinquain

My blog.
Write, share, connect
With peers, family, friends.
Compose, revise, add picture then

Thanks for checking it out! I also want to give a shout out to The Write Marbles website for sending me a fabulous picture book, Hush, Little Dragon by Boni Ashburn. I won their Chime In and Rhyme contest last month. And lo and behold, I just heard today I won another contest! YA Author Keri Mikulski is sending me some cool YA books that I won in her Book Giveaway Contest! Woo hoo! Thanks Keri and Write Marbles for some great reads!

Friday, October 31, 2008


I’ve been tagged by Kim Kasch to write Seven Unknown Facts about me. I have done a similar tag titled 12 Weird Random Things About Me….but I’m strange and mysterious (okay, I’m stretching the truth a bit)…so I’ll add seven more…
I tag whoever would like to disclose their seven facts about themselves…you know you want to join in on the fun!

Seven Unknown Facts about Kelly Polark
1. I have had three c-sections.
2. I’ve stood on a glacier in Alaska (see picture).
3. I’m an alumna of Kappa Delta sorority.
4. I was an All Conference and All County pitcher on my high school softball team.
5. I have no sense of direction (my husband bought me a GPS for Christmas so I wouldn’t get lost).
6. I am a homebody, just like my astrological sign, Cancer, suggests.
7. My favorite holiday is Halloween!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BOO! Blogapalooza!

Welcome to my BLAAAAAGH! Thank you to Angela Nickerson from Just Go! for hosting this Blogapalooza... There is a list on the right side of "Just Go!" of all the blogs that are participating. For your spooky blogging trip, visit these sites, and post comments!
Don't forget to enter the drawing for a goodie bag!...Just drop by Just Go! and make a comment in the Goodie Bag post, and you have a chance to win.
Now to my true, scary story titled
My best friend, Becky, and I moved in a little closer to hear Grace tell the story around the campfire. Grace’s gray, bobbed hair glowed from the reflection of the fire. She continued, “And every once in a while, Bill and I can hear the faint sound of a siren in the night.”
Even though the night was humid, and the fire was hot, I shivered. Becky gave me a sideways glance and said, “You’re just joking, aren’t you, Grace? We may be only ten, but we’re not that gullible!”
I laughed nervously, hoping Becky was right.
Grace smiled, “Becky, I have never seen McGregor. I’ve only heard the stories from Old Joe, who owned this place before us. If McGregor is still living somewhere in the woods, he’d never hurt you. He’s probably just a sad, old soul who lost his family and became a little unbalanced. The siren we hear almost sounds like a wailing cry.”
Grace and Bill were old friends of Becky’s parents. They were an older couple who had retired to this isolated cabin in the deep northwoods of Wisconsin. Surely she wouldn’t lie to us.
“Let’s hope that McGregor is vacationing in Florida right now,” Becky’s dad joked. I jumped as he spoke. I was thinking intently about the legend of McGregor, the crazy old man who lived among the tall pines.
“Let’s get to our cabin, girls,” Becky’s mom said. “It’s getting late.”
“Goodnight,” I called to our hosts. “Thanks for dinner tonight!”
“Goodnight, girls! Sleep well!” Grace called to us.
“Yeah, right,” I thought to myself.
“Mom, are you scared?” Becky asked her mom.
“No, honey. Grace and Bill were probably having a little fun with you,” she replied.
Becky’s mom laid out our sleeping bags on the screened in porch. We were hoping the breeze would cool us off a little on this hot, sticky night. I was a little nervous sleeping on the porch after hearing the McGregor story.
Becky’s mom gave us a flashlight, and we said our good nights.
“Becky,” I whispered. “Are you scared?”
“A little,” she hissed.
“Me, too,” I said, but that was a lie. I was a lot scared.
We heard a rustle outside. I stiffened and croaked, “What was that?”
Becky bravely turned on the flashlight and shined it on the hundreds of trees. We saw a raccoon’s rear end scurry off into the darkness.
“It was just a raccoon,” Becky sighed.
I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. All I could think about were things that could be lurking outside: raccoons, bears, coyotes…and McGregor. Finally I fell asleep, only to be awakened by Becky’s foot kicking my leg.
“Listen!” she squeaked.
It was the long, wailing sound of a siren. I was so scared, I couldn’t move.
Becky whispered, “Let’s go!” and we ran into the house.
“Mom! Dad!” Becky called.
“What?” Becky’s mom asked sleepily.
“Can you hear that?” Becky gasped.
The siren sounded like it was getting fainter.
“I bet that’s McGregor!” Becky’s dad said excitedly.
Becky and I huddled on the couch as her parents peered into the woods. The siren stopped.
The headlights of a vehicle startled us all. Bill and Grace rushed inside. They cried, “Did you hear that?”
“Was it McGregor?” Becky asked.
“It must have been. We came to check on you,” Grace continued.
“Oh, no!” I cried. “I can’t sleep here with McGregor outside!”
“Me neither!” said Becky.
Grace and Bill tried to calm us down, but Becky and I wanted to get the heck out of there.
“C’mon, girls. You’re safe here. McGregor’s not real,” said Bill.
“Was it you?” Becky demanded.
Grace and Bill looked at each other. “Yeah. Sure it was. We were playing a trick. Now go on to bed, girls. You don’t need to be scared.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yep,” Grace said unconvincingly. “Now go on to bed. Sorry you were spooked.”
As Becky and I lay our sleeping bags on the living room floor, I asked, “Do you think it was really them?”
Becky hesitated and answered, “I think so.”
I still wasn’t so sure…

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tune for Tuesday

Since it is the week of Halloween, today's video features various Halloween spoofs. The tune is "Psycho" by the band Puddle of Mudd. "Psycho" is off of their lastest album, "Famous." I played this tune all summer long. It is definitely catchy, and a little humorous, "Maybe I'm the one who is the schizophrenic psycho..." I also find it funny, because for some odd reason, my four year old loved this song. He'd sing along, "Maybe I'm the one who is the stitsophenic psyto!" I hope he won't need therapy in the future...

Click to hear PSYCHO

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ghosts of Halloween Costumes Past

Halloween is big in our house. It all started when my oldest son, JC, was two years old. We went trick or treating with our cousins; he loved it. After that, he talked about Halloween throughout the year. He loved everything to do with Halloween, the costumes, the spooky decorations, the celebration we’d have with our family each year. JC loved the movie, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Every time we were in the car, he’d shout, “Graveyard!” when we passed a cemetery. In fact, we’d take him to the cemetery just for kicks.
When JC was three, his preschool had a career day where the child came to school dressed as his/her future occupation. JC wanted to be a gravedigger. Yes, you read right, a gravedigger. My husband and I tried to convince him to be a fisherman, a businessman, a football player…we were a little embarrassed to send him as a gravedigger. JC was adamant about being a gravedigger. So, I put overalls on him, went outside and rubbed dirt all over him (I got a few weird looks from passing neighbors), and sent him to school with a shovel. I told him, “I guarantee that you will be the only gravedigger at school today, JC! Have fun!” And he did. His aspirations have changed since then…to a meteorologist, director, and now a rockstar (he just started guitar lessons). I know they will change again.
And all of this brings us to a big Halloween Hoopla every year. We go all out. I’ve collected more and more decorations as the years go by, indoor and out. We have our very own graveyard set up in our front yard, skeletons and ghosts hanging from the trees, and jack-o-lanterns greeting our guests. We also have family party every year so the kids (okay, and the adults) can dress up in their costumes and play with one another. Last night we had our annual get together. Here’s a fun picture from it…and some of my costumes from Halloween past.
As you can tell from the picture above, my husband and I were Todd and Sarah from Alaska this year.

Last year I was a beer wench, he was a scary dude, I guess.

The year before that I was Wonder Woman. When I was little, my mom used to tell my sister and I that she was Wonder Woman but had to give up the title when she got married. Yep, we believed her for a while. Is my family strange? Or imaginative?!

And lastly, I'm throwing in one from my youth. I'm the football player. No frou-frou costumes for me, I was a tomboy and proud of it! The witch and the clown are still two of my best friends today!

What were some of your favorite Halloween costumes?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Senior Moments

Some fellow bloggers are daring their blog peers to expose their past and post a senior high school picture! I accept that dare with delight.
I may be one of the few who loved every year of school from kindergarten to college (which may have led me to my career in teaching). In grade school, I soaked in the knowledge like a sponge. I loved racing friends at recess. I truly liked my teachers. High school brought a fresh variety of friendships, more clubs and sports to enjoy, and increased challenges in my education. My biggest challenge: chemistry! UGH!
My senior year began in the fall of 1988. I was laughing at Rosanne and Cheers on TV. My favorite movie in high school was “About Last Night,” but my senior year I remember loving “Coming to America” with Eddie Murphy.
Hair was permed and big. Music was either syrupy pop or hair metal (I loved the latter).
Some of my fave songs of that school year were “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns n Roses. Other notable hits were “Father Figure” by George Michael,“Angel” by Aerosmith, and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison. Man, I love the 80’s.
I was extremely involved in high school: homecoming court, yearbook staff, cheerleading, basketball, softball…not to mention filling out college scholarship applications, fun with friends, and of course, a steady boyfriend. And don't forget Spring Break. My best friend's parents invited three of her friends to sail with them on a sailboat in the Caribbean for a week. It was unbelievable!
Oh, wait, you just stopped to see the embarrassing pictures.
Fine, here you have it.
A cheerleading pic taken the summer before my senior year. Our team won first place at cheerleading camp that year! Go! Go! Fight! Fight! Gee, I hope I look all right!

Ahhh, senior prom. Here's me behind my big hair and blue eye shadow.

Next year is my twenty, yes, twenty year reunion...I'll have to search for some cool 80's music for that. Oh, wait, I have them all on one of my fave Itunes lists.